Insurance a hot market for customer service technology says Sword Ciboodle


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Recent wins indicate insurers moving to invest in customer relationships

As the economic downturn bites hard in the financial services sector, it is becoming clear that insurance companies remain bullish on technology investment, and many are looking to deploy new customer service technologies to position themselves for growth and to remain competitive as the economy emerges from the recession. Leading customer service solution provider, Sword Ciboodle, sees a growing trend towards investment in customer service enhancement among insurers.

According to an independent report from Forrester Research, Inc., published in March 2009, “The insurance industry is undergoing a big transformation and much of that transformation is directed toward how insurers engage with their customers… Insurers are inquiring about smart technology that creates the right solutions delivered to the right customer at the right time – and that reduce transaction costs.” (“Inquiry Insights: Financial Services, Q4 2008”).

The report continues, “Customer experience solutions considered mature in the banking industry, like online account opening, bill pay, or interactive chat, are risky innovations in insurance. Insurers are screaming for tech vendors who can marry long-standing insurance experience with innovative thinking about how technology can improve insurance customer experience and a host of other business challenges.”

In the past month, Sword Ciboodle has announced three new deals with insurance companies, reflecting the increased activity seen by the company in the insurance market of late.

“Factors including increased competition and the current economic climate are forcing insurers to explore how they can create cost efficiencies in processing claims and also improve the service they offer customers,” said Paul White, executive vice president, Sword Ciboodle. “The highly dynamic nature of the insurance business means that insurance carriers can benefit from software systems with increased agility and flexibility like ours. This ensures that their technology infrastructure is able to keep up with the frequent changes in their business at the pace at which their business demands.”

Following Sword Ciboodle’s recent deal with motor insurance provider, Admiral Group, Steve Webster, Admiral’s IT director, stated, “We need to ensure our business systems are optimised for changes. After going through a stringent evaluation process, including a successful proof of concept exercise, Sword Ciboodle has proven itself to be the best fit for what we are looking for, with the right mix of powerful platform capabilities and strong integration expertise.”

Another Forrester report published in September 2008, “North American Insurance IT Spending In 2008” states that “Insurance companies… have discovered that one critical way to demonstrate competitive differentiation is through the customer experience across all their channels.”

“Providing a consistently excellent level of service regardless of what channel the customer chooses to use has long been at the core of the Sword Ciboodle value proposition,” said White. “Our unique, process-oriented approach to enhancing the multi-channel customer experience ensures that we have a compelling and comprehensive CRM offering for insurers.”

Sword Group acquired Sword Ciboodle in 2008, bringing with it a wealth of experience and penetration in the insurance sector. Sword Group already cites over 50 insurers, including major international players like Axa, Aviva and Hiscox, as customers of its policy administration and risk aggregation products. Collectively, Sword Ciboodle and Open Box Plus products have contributed to the continued revenue and margin growth of the group, with the global insurance sector as a strategic market.

“The economic downturn is placing more of a focus on the financial viability of technology vendors, with insurance companies less inclined to take a risk on suppliers that have attractive technology offerings but lack referenceable customers.” added White. “Our recent insurance wins with Vhi Healthcare, BGL Group and Admiral coupled with the financial strength and insurance expertise that we have gained through the wider Sword Group stand us in good stead to take advantage of this.”

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